Our opinion: Status of art school facilities a concern for all students

It’s easy to look around our campus and imagine it as a paradise of higher education. Between the wildlife and the vegetation, it sometimes more closely resembles a country club than a university. But there is a significant blight on the Coral Gables campus, and while it doesn’t directly impact each student, it is something we should all be aware of.

As reported in our cover story, our university’s art school is housed in buildings that can only be described as sub-standard. Constructed by the Army in the times of our grandparents, the wooden shacks have long outserved their usefulness to our university. History is something to be preserved and cherished by our university, but this is taking it a little bit too far.

And the greatest indignity is the fact that there is no quick-action plan to rectify the situation. A building that was supposed to be knocked over in 1992 still stands to this day, and is expected to stand until at least 2015, if not longer. We get that the economy isn’t exactly flying right now, but at some point it’s unfair to expect students who bear the same tuition burden as every other Cane to try to learn in these kind of conditions.

And therein lies the point. We’re all students at the University of Miami. From engineering to English, from calculus to communication and clay works, we all pay the same tuition and inhabit the same campus. How can we look at our art school friends and say to them just grin and bear it while we enjoy our renovated Memorial classrooms and brand new buildings in Communications and Nursing? We all want the best possible education for ourselves for our investment. But when some students are dealing with such insufficient facilities, all students should be their advocates.

March 29, 2009


Editorial Board

The Miami Hurricane

ONE COMMENT ON THIS POST To “Our opinion: Status of art school facilities a concern for all students”

  1. TH says:

    “We get that the economy isn’t exactly flying right now, but at some point it’s unfair to expect students who bear the same tuition burden as every other Cane to try to learn in these kind of conditions.”

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. I spent my time at the University of Miami discovering that this top rated, four year univeristy wasn’t living up to its expectations. My local community college had a better photo program than what the School of Communications tried to pass of as a photo program. I signed up for the photography program in the School of Communication (I was led to believe it was a commercial photography program, versus the art photography program, which I did not believe would give me that business skills needed to succeed in commercial photography) entered as a guinea pig for the remodeled program that resulted; Visual Communication. I was unaware of the changes until I arrived on campus. Shortly after my graduation, the program dissolved and reformed as Visual Journalism. During that time, I was still paying the same tuition as everybody else, despite the fact that it was increasingly evident that my program was an experiment. Furthermore, the classes were redundant. Who needs 5 classes in storytelling and portfolio building? Give us some REAL lighting classes, business and marketing, give us the skills to shoot for the magazines. A talented person can take a good picture without a four year degree; the real success in photography comes in knowing how to market yourself and that photograph. In a market such as our with advertisers slashing their budgets, it’s increasingly difficult to find steady work; fresh photographers are lacking extremely important knowledge to market themselves appropriately.

    But I digress…that is for another forum.

    I had credit from my previous college in photography, but I was told by UM those credits could not count toward my CVC major, they would only be useful in the art college. Because of this, I was basically forced to take general art study as my second major, or else I would lose my credits.

    Upon seeing the conditions of the art school, I was appalled. I won’t reiterate the many excellent points already presented, but I agree that the art school is largely overlooked and under supported. Dilapidated buildings littering our campus and the lack of a space for the art school buildings to stand together as a community sends a strong message about the level of commitment to the art department at the University of Miami. I have to say that despite the conditions of the art department on campus, the professors try to make the most of the situation. Andy was my favorite grad student professor; to this day, I utilize what he taught me when I make sketches for home repairs. Being able to communicate my ideas visually is fantastic (but accurately is priceless).
    However, art students are treated like second rate citizens on this campus and it’s time for a change.

    As the author asks: Why should we have to pay the same tuition as everybody else and be forced to study in subpar conditions?

    With Miami rapidly becoming a leader in the art world, and the rising popularity of Art Basel and other smaller art shows throughout the year, the University of Miami should rethink its commitment to the university’s more creative minded and artistic students. You never know who will be the next great thing. Would you want to know their were quite successful with thanks to the Univeristy of Miami, or quite successful despite the University of Miami?

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.